At the time of publishing this article, voting is currently occurring for the Independent Creator Awards. Within one of the circles of indie comics (trust me, there’s more than one circle), there’s a buzz of nominations, votings, and anticipation.
Chuck Pineau, the Auditor for the ICAs, puts it this way, “The awards benefit the community because it gives them something to be excited about and allows people to show off their projects to a group of peeps that might not have otherwise seen or heard of said project.”
The ICA’s we’re created just a year ago to recognize the 2019 work of independent creators by Rob Andersin and the Comic Book Advocates. This year, because of the stress of 2020, the sophomore ICAs look a bit different. Voting is happening by the fans and creators themselves via a Facebook poll, in the hopes of adding a bright spot to a hard year. I recently caught-up with Andersin to discuss the awards in more detail and gain some insight into how the 2020 awards will be chosen. My original intent was to write an article, but Rob gave such detailed and informative answers, I decided instead to present this as an interview. Enjoy!
Rob, thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk. Tell us more about yourself and your background?
I was a kid who was struggling to read and then I discovered comics via a cartoon Pilot for X-Men. At the time, unbeknownst to me, I was struggling due to dyslexia that had gone undiagnosed my entire life to the point, 11 years. Sounds like a little bit of time but when measured against the damage that can be done missing that it was not the finest moment for the NYC Board of Ed. I was at a point where I could not read at a 1st-grade level.
Once I saw this Pilot of FREAKS and feeling ostracized myself for various reasons, I searched out the X-Men and it would have to be done in the pages of comics. So using a Dictionary on one side of a table and a comic on the other I taught myself to read one word at a time. My reading comprehension test scores jumped in an almost spider bite sudden transformation way, going from way below average to Technical Books and Scholar works, no kidding. They actually wanted to retest me, and then for next year’s test, I scored higher and put that doubt to bed.
That was The POWER of COMICS and the ability to inspire a child. I do not know what I would have wound up in life without comics, no joke. They inspired me to learn and got me to do something that was hard to accomplish but clearly, the right motivation proved little is impossible. I still have issues with missing educational blocks due to how I was treated and always joke I will learn phonics with my son when it’s his time to learn it.
That step of using comics to learn to read made my life better. I was just some dumb kid from Queens NYC who was called stupid by teaches and suddenly I wasn’t. Comics were a kind of super source of power for me. One I know brag about with my Comic in KIDS HANDS Movement ( Like the Facebook Page to follow along and join us at a panel) and preach how Comics can inspire children to read and learn.
So I owe comics for my ability to read and all of my accomplishments in life. I pay that back by being an ADVOCATE for Comics and through Comic Book ADVOCATES.com have ADVOCATED for thousands of creators and in some ways changed things I hope for the better with ADVOCATING tool like Backer Pause that teaches Creators about the Attentions spans of people watching their Crowdfunding Videos.
I myself become a comics book creator who as my Tagline Reads: ‘Mr. AnderSiN is the UNBOXABLE, UNCANNY, COMiX ADVOCATE who will tempt you with his Tales of FETISH MONSTERS and More.’ I am also a founding member of Terraform Comics that will be building a Library for INDEE Comics Creators to be part of Called The Continuum, a series where we have creators submit their works in short story form to build on the biggest INDEE collection of stories ever attempted.
I am at heart a Comic Book Fan. I am proud of all things I created and being able to ADVOCATE for fellow creators but my biggest accomplishment comes from being a Dad and watching my son Jaxx ( who has a Comic about him Called CatDad & SUPERMOM, an EleFart Never forgets, published by Scoot Comics under Scout Comics. ) overcome the hurdles of Autism. That ability to help him comes from my experiences with ADHD, Dyslexia, and learning to read via comics. Without any of that I would not be able to, not just help, but understand the hurdles and have the ability to work with him to accomplish learning the abilities that he will need in life. And Yes I use comics to inspire him and it is working as he now asks to have books and comics read to him instead of ripping them apart. Watching me create his comic-inspired him to respect all written words.
Find out more by going too https://mrandersin.website/who-is-mr-andersin/
Where did the idea for the awards come from and when and how did it initially take shape?
Comics Book Advocates has been around for over 5 years and over that time, especially in the beginning, we tried awards. No matter how well-intended they came across as handing Awards to friends so we stopped for a few years.
Over those years people would ask why aren’t we doing awards, a push for us to do awards got bigger and bigger every year till finally I succumbed to the peer pressure and Created The INDEPENDENT COMICS/CREATOR AWARDS last Year.
It went from me handing out awards to those I thought should earn to a complex system that included a FACEBOOK group for nominations and voting plus over 50 Judges from all walks of life, (from Fan to Creator even Cosplayers. ) none of who knew about the other or how others were voting making it blind judging. I then brought in Chuck Pineau, a trusted Figure to be the AUDITOR of the AWARDS, to prove the integrity in the process. While it was my idea, Chuck would become the Soul of the Awards in many ways and helped shape into something worthy of its title.
In our first year, we created a Hall of Fame to acknowledge Creators for their Independent works, and deserve that respect and acknowledgment. Each Inductee is given The SPIRIT of INDEE AWARD and entered into our Hall of Fame. That Hall of fame 1st class includes Will Esniner the 1st inductee and the REASON we call it The INDEE SPIRIT AWARD, Buddy Scalera from ComicBookSchool.com and purveyor of many informative panels across the con circuit, Steve Colle Master Class Editor and ROLAND MANN former MARVEL Editor and now Editor in Chief at SILVERLINE COMICS.
After the Events of 2020, I and Chuck agreed no one would want to be judged after the year it was and we wanted to give the power to the fans for a YEAR. While this does cause it to become a bit of a popularity contest we wanted to acknowledge the most important part of comics, The FANs. So this year it is all their call and Next year, and going forward, we will use a Hybrid system that will heavily involve The Comic Book Industries Fans.
In 2020 with a Heavy Heart, knowing its importance we are adding an in memoriam section the awards, that acknowledges and celebrates all the Lives of Creators who passed in that award cycle. The Cycle itself is by Calendar year.
How are nominations and voting handled?
Each Award has its own Stipulations even to who can nominate and parameters of the awards considerations are publicly listed. For 2020 it’s all fan choice via a poll in our INDEPENDENT CREATORS AWARDS facebook group so everything this year is transparent. Next year we will Mix in a Panel of JUDGES who will do the voting with the fans, we are working out the how over the next 10 months.
How do you ensure nominations and voting are fair and well balanced?
The Stipulations and the parameters of the Awards add balance and Myself and Chuck are watching along with Meredith Loughran from Geek Insider.com ( host of ART – Hosted by GEEK INSIDER, Voting Ends 2-21-21 @ 4 pm et ) and Founding member of Terraform Comics, joined us this year as a Host and Admin of events. Together we watch and make sure everything is as fair as possible. In fact, last year during the 2019 ICA’s we had to eject a publisher for giving away free books for votes. So we are dedicated to ensuring a fair process. But no matter who wins, all of INDEE Comics wins as it showcases the Diversity, Creative Wonders, and Every Expanding Creative worlds brought to life by INDEPENDENT CREATORS and outgrowing influence within the Comic book industry itself.
What do winners receive?
Public Acknowledgment of Awards, Showcase on the Awards show that got Hundreds of Views Last year, a Digital Plaque and Digital Award Ribbon they are allowed to use as they see fit. We hope as we grow to possibly as a physical award, but this is INDEE Comics remember, we make do. The Integrity of this Award has made it something people seek to have as we have seen an instant increase over the first year’s activity and we are just beginning.
What’s your long term vision for the awards?
I will be happy if we can just keep people interested in this process. Sure a Real Hall of Fame one day would be nice, Partnering with a Convention would help, but in the end, it is the goal to Acknowledge and award the Creative Spirit in comics even on the Independent level that is criminally overlooked year after year.
Who is the team behind the awards this year?
Myself Rob AnderSiN, Chuck Pineau & Meredith Loughran with Supporting help from Varian Grant from Indie Volt, Shorty ( my younger sister been calling her that since she was a toddler), and Bobby Gregory.
When will the award winners be revealed?
This YEARS AWARDS will be broken into 4 nights based on creative categories throughout FEB & March ’21 starting with:
- ART – Hosted by GEEK INSIDER, Voting Ends 2-21-21 @ 4 pm et
- CROWDFUNDING – Hosted by INDIE VOLT, Voting Ends 2–28-21 @ 4 pm et
- WORDS – Hosted by Chucks Shop Talk, Voting Ends 3-7-21 @ 4 pm et and finally
- CREATION – Hosted by ComicBookAdvocates. com, Voting Ends 3-14-21 @ 4 pm et hosted by Comic Book ADVOCATES.com.
Due to the Events of 2020, we felt no one should be Judged and it should be a FANS CHOICE YEAR. So Once a Contest is Created it will run till The show itself where the winners will be announced LIVE. Most votes will take place in The Independent Creator Awards Facebook group. These AWARDS show PROVE creation was not beaten even during 2020.
For all different contest work submitted must be released in 2020 and not before, unless otherwise stated. Special rules for entry will be posted below the Contests title but for the Awards rule we use the Be A Pear system found here- BeAPear.space
Where can people learn more?
If I can add a Thank You to all the fans that make this possible and a Shout to EVERY CREATOR who Kept Creating no matter how bad it got in 2020. This YEARS AWARDS are Dedicated to you.